Fintech

Google Unveils Tez, A Payment Platform Exclusively For India

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Google has launched a new digital payment app named Google Tez for the Indian market. The app supports English and seven Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. It is available for both Android and iOS platforms.

Google Tez links user’s bank account to Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. You can use to perform transactions including money transfers, receive payments and pay for purchases.

Google revealed that Tez was made for India due to its growing tech hub.

The banks that Tez supports include Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI and State Bank of India and others that support UPI. Online payment partners include large food chains like Dominos, transport services like RedBus, and Jet Airways according to the information on the website.

It is noteworthy to add that Tez is not a mobile wallet where users can store money in the app. It needs to be topped up to be used.

This launch will put Tex in direct competition with Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet company. It launched 7 years ago and has Alibaba and Softbank has invested in the business.

Meanwhile, Google plans to introduce a mobile wallet option in the next year.

 

Mobile lender Branch raises $2m to bolster its micro-loans in East Africa

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Micro-lending app Branch has raised $2m (ksh 200m) to bolster its loans to SMEs in Kenya and across the east African region as its loan book hits Ksh 4 billion and demand for loans skyrockets while supply shrinks.

The credit was arranged by Centum-owned Nabo Capital from local investors and fund managers according to Business Daily Africa.

The terms of the deal were not revealed the signifies a shift from normal sources of capital to fintech startups in Africa, and Kenya especially.

In December 2015, Branch became the first African-based startup to raise investment from Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, whose portfolio includes Facebook and AirBnB, closing a $9.2m Series A round. The mobile-based financial services company has raised over $15m in equity and debt funding to date.

These investment is expected to help it grow its loans portfolio locally as well as take on its competition Tala (formerly Mkopo Rahisi), among others.

“Demand for mobile loans is likely to increase as the caps are shrinking the supply of credit in many traditional avenues,” Daniel Szlapak, director of Africa at Branch told the paper.

In July this year, Branch announced it had disbursed 1,500,000 loans since its launch in Kenya in 2015 and was now eying entry into Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

In Kenya, Branch had 350,000 customers and disbursing nearly $4m  Sh400 million a month. In Tanzania, the firm said it was growing by 30 per cent month over month since the beginning of the year.

“We’ve seen fantastic growth at Branch because we know what our borrowers expect from their financial partner: they want speed, transparency and convenience.We are disrupting the existing lending space by making credit available at the tap of a button, within minutes of downloading the app – no paperwork or collateral necessary,’’ said CEO Matt Flannery.

Branch offers MPesa loans of up to KSh 50,000 via an Android application that can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.

Lending decisions are made by a proprietary credit score calculated by analysing over 2,000 data points on applicants’ phones. New borrowers start out with a loan of up to KSh 1,000 and can grow their credit limit based on their repayment performance on previous loans.

The company’s growth has been spurred by its unique policy of offering lower interest rates to customers who have reached higher credit limits, thereby encouraging repeat uptake.

The firm launched a KSh30,000 loan targeted at Uber drivers and partnered with Jumia to give vendors working capital loans.

Tulaa mobile commerce farmer marketplace launches to enable farmers access inputs, finance, info & markets

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Tulaa, is a new mobile commerce business set to enable farmers to access inputs, finance, information and markets in a virtual marketplace.

The platform is incubated by Ghana’s Esoko in a move to enable farmers to save and borrow to purchase inputs, receive tailored agronomic advice, and market their crops at harvest time.

Headquartered in Kenya and led by Hillary Miller-Wise, the former CEO of Esoko, Tulaa will focus on growing its market share in Ghana and Kenya initially and eventually expanding into other markets.

Tulaa has a virtual marketplace, a lay-wallet, quality inputs, access to affordable credit, tailored agricultural extension services and call centre support. Farmers use the platform for inputs, increase sales via the m-commerce platform and build brand and customer loyalty.

Financial institutions can use Tulaa to increase loan portfolio among smallholder farmers, lower risk through partnerships with agribusinesses on the platform and increase access  to valuable data for credible risk assessment while NGOs and Co-ops can use the platform to empower farmers with access to inputs and finance, support farmers to plan better and increase yields and enable fast and secure payments to farmers via mobile money.

For commodity buyers, the platform can help them aggregate and source quality produce at lower cost, reduce cash handling risk via mobile money payments and build loyalty among their smallholder suppliers.

Charlotte Ward, Chairman of the Board of Esoko Networks said Esoko Networks Ltd. will continue to support Tulaa as a shareholder.

 

Société Générale Set To Disrupt Africa’s Mobile Payment System With The Launch of YUP

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Société Générale has announced the launch of YUP, a mobile money solution that provides access to financial services even without having a bank account.

Deployed in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, YUP already has more than 30,000 open wallets and nearly 600 agents. YUP will continue its development by launching in Ghana and Cameroon by the end of the year and in 2018 in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Togo before being extended to the entire network.

Société Générale hopes to open 1 million wallets within 3 years, doubling its customer base in sub-Saharan Africa, and building a network of 8,000 agents to serve their users.

Commenting on the launch, Alexandre Maymat, Head of the Africa/Mediterranean Basin & Overseas region said: “Africa is inventing the future of banking. The project’s key ambition is to be a part of this revolution by offering a simple transactional tool that’s accessible to all residents of the countries in which Societe Generale does business, be they individuals or corporations, Group customers, account holders with our competitors, or customers without bank accounts. This last category makes up 80%-90% of the population depending on the country, and it’s a major financial inclusion challenge in which the Group wants to take part through YUP.”

The wallet, built on technology from French start-up firm TagPay, allows customers to transfer money, receive cash and pay bills with a mobile phone. It is targeted at both banked and unbanked customers and is available to any mobile phone user, regardless of its telephone operator.

 

Paga Announces That It Is Now Fully Integrated Into Nigeria’s Banking System

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Paga, one of the early payment platforms in Nigeria, has announced it is now fully integrated into Nigeria’s Banking System. This is according to Tayo Oviosu, the CEO and founder of Paga.

Explaining Paga’s mode of operation before the integration, Oviosu said that it took about two hours to verify a transfer. As a result, they had a lot of angry customers.

“When Paga launched to the public the only way to fund an account was either at a Paga agent or by visiting a bank branch to deposit to our bank account. If you used the second approach you had to notify us on our site. Two members of our team had to verify your deposit before we gave you electronic value. We termed this process “manual deposit”. We had 20 staff to make this manual deposit process work! It took us about 2hrs on average to process any deposit. Sometimes the banks didn’t post immediately, sometimes they didn’t post until evening. We could only give value when we saw money in our account. Other times we just had a major backlog. Either way, we had irate customers, and understandably so.”

Since this manual deposit process cannot be scaled, Paga had no choice than to work directly with banks.

Oviosu said that they started with 6 banks (including all major banks) adding that “Today, Paga is now connected to all banks in Nigeria. You can transfer money to your Paga account instantly, using your Paga 10 digit account number, from any bank in Nigeria. You can also transfer from Paga to any bank account in Nigeria instantly. This is a core foundation for the future.”

UBA Group deploys AI-powered callback technology for instant customer response

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United Bank of Africa Group, (UBA) is going above and beyond the legacy banking systems to omni channel marketing and social media lead generation, meeting its customers where they are – on websites, email, social networks, and cross-device platforms.

UBA Group is taking advantage of AI-powered systems that even the western banks haven’t implemented yet. For instance, customers calling the bank for various reasons now have the option of requesting a call back to get on demand information. This has been implemented by using web to phone callback technology developed by Lucep.

You can see the website widget deployed on the UBA website at ubagroup.com for several financial services and products. The bank’s customers enter in their name and number, and select the reason for which they want a call back. The Lucep AI takes the callback request, and distributes it to the right team, ensuring it goes to an authorized member of the team who has the Lucep app on their smartphone. This member can then connect back to the customer through the app itself.

The benefits of such an instant response system are huge, especially when it’s about following up on new customers who are inquiring about banking services. Let’s say someone who wants a mortgage calls UBA and a few other banks to compare the procedure,  costs and paperwork needed.

UBA being the only one who has implemented an instant lead response system, is able to give the customer a call back within one or two minutes.

Since UBA is the first to call back, it gives them an edge over others. The bank is able to engage customers and get them to sign up before the competitors have a chance to make a call and talk to the customer. Customers also appreciate the bank calling back instantly, while other banks may take hours or even days to respond. It is this kind of attention to detail, personalized service, and deft use of the latest technologies that has helped UBA stay ahead of its competitors in Africa, and ahead of the trends in the global banking industry.

Pineapple raises R5.2m from Lireas Holdings to revolutionise the way insurance is done in South Africa

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Pineapple, a peer-to-peer insurance tech startup based in Johannesburg, South Africa has secured seed funding of R5.2m from Lireas Holdings, the strategic investment arm of Hannover-Re Group Africa, in return for a minority shareholding in a move set to bring their innovative insurance offering to market.

With the seed funding, Pineapple aims to revolutionise the way insurance is done, starting with the mechanics of the actual business model. Todays insurance companies only provide R36 value for every R100 premium paid due to excessive expense lines, unfair profiting and an abundance of fraud. Pineapple want to change that.

According to Pineapple Co-founder Matthew Elan Smith, “Our true innovation of creating a decentralised peer-to-peer insurer is only as good as how well we can deliver that business model to our users. This drives us to be absolutely meticulous when it comes to our user experience in order to minimalize the friction of getting insured.”

The team says it will remove the conflict of interest in insurance as currently, every claim an insurer denies adds to their bottom line which is an inherent conflict of interest whereby the provider of the service is actually incentivised to not follow through on their promise. The firm also aims to completely remove the conflict by returning ALL unused premium back to the hands of the consumer.

The platform also aims to provide complete transparency – showing you exactly where your premiums go and how they are used and reintroduce affinity into insurance – Connect with friends, family, trusted acquaintances to stop paying for fraudsters and bad risks who are currently ruining the insurance value chain. This also removes the need for the insurer to treat you like a criminal when you submit a claim.

The team aims to be a flexible, scalable and decentralised peer-to-peer insurer that provides fully fledged insurance coverage to its members and to make insurance fun. The team is set to integrate AI and blockchain soon. You can sign up for early access spots at www.Pineapple.co.za at the moment.

 

 

Francophone Fintechs Can Now Apply For The Bridge Africa Accelerator Program

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Fintechs and Energy startups in Francophone African countries can now apply for the Bridge Africa Accelerator Program. 

The Program which is an initiative of JokkoLabs with the support of Société Générale and in partnership with GreenTec Capital Partners is an open innovation program that accelerates projects with high potential for the African market.

From the expected applications, two startups with innovative projects in the FinTech and/or Energy sectors, with potential for development in the African market will be selected.

By participating in Bridge Africa 2017, you will benefit from:

  1.  An analysis of the potential of your project in Africa through coaching, access to a network of partners, clients and investors, and opportunities, to a pilot project with an African subsidiary of SG;
  2.  Of access to Société Générale’s innovation space #LePlateau located in Les Dunes (Val de Fontenay – France) for a minimum of 2 months without charge.

At the end of the Bridge Africa 2017 program, we offer the two selected startups a unique opportunity (subject to their selection by the partners):

  1. To evaluate and test a pilot within Société Générale – the world’s leading bank, and ultimately  to fuel the prospect of opening up new markets;
  2. To participate in the Result4Equity © program of GreenTec Capital Partners GMBH.

Interested startups are encouraged to apply at the Bridge Africa Sign-up page. Applications close on 15th September 2017.

The rise of FinTech startups in Nigeria: Would we still need banks later on?

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Fintech in Nigeria

Hey, I was doing a bit of thinking and I came up with this. Are we truly approaching a period in Nigeria when we might not need the services of most conventional commercial banks? Emphasis on “conventional”. Of course, FinTech startups could be referred to as “banks” but not conventional ones.

In very recent times, with the increased penetration of the internet in our daily living, there has also been an increased number of FinTech startups too. Not just the increase in numbers birthed the thought, the increase in attention also did – financially. Evident is Flutterwave’s very recent round of investments where they were able to raise up to $10 Million.

How about the stats? PayStack, according to this report, processed payments which sum up to over a billion naira in a month. That’s quite a huge one. So it got me wondering…

Would banks really go extinct soon enough? What service do they render that FinTech companies do not, or are not doing better? Let’s list some of them out, shall we?

  • They transfer money between accounts

Well, this is a core function of banks too. And it is also one that startups like PayStack, Paga, Flutterwave, SimplePay, VoguePay and their likes are doing conveniently. Majority of these companies do not even have branches all over like banks, yet, they have snatched a sizeable amount of business from them. This is especially for those that do not take internet banking very seriously.

  • They help us save, or do they?

Yes, a lot of banks claim to help us save for the future. Maybe they do, but that’s not the main point here. The main point is that companies like PiggyBank and CowryWise also claim to help us do it better than them. And you know what, a whole lot of people believe them. Except for those who do not have proper access to the internet.

  • SME’s can procure loans from banks

Well, you might have not heard of PayLater, but I have. They are offering this same service and like the others, even better. Even farmers would at some point start moving in troops to FarmCrowdy to get an investor for their farms, instead of procuring loans with very high interest rates.

  • Would Banks ever go digital?

The future of cryptocurrency might not be secured yet but it sure looks very bright. So in a case where almost everyone is going digital, who do you think would be the first to implement that? Banks? Not a chance. At this point, I wonder if they’d have any monies to hold for them.

 

Well well, I might be wrong too. Maybe I didn’t think it through well, but it all seem like technology is having its run at the banking sector. Please let us in on your opinion. What do you think about this?

Pula Partners CGAP to Bring Satellite-Based Agricultural Insurance to 18 Million Nigerian Smallholders

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A farmer prepares water channels in his maize field in Ngiresi near the Tanzanian town of Arusha on Tuesday, July 17, 2007. Millions of farmers around the world will be affected by a growing movement to change one of the biggest forces shaping the complex global food market: subsidies. Many experts agree farmers need help to grow food year in and year out, but Western farmers may get too much and African farmers too little. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)
Half of the world is unbanked, McKinsey

Over 2.5 billion of the world’s adults remain unbanked and have no access to formal banking or semiformal microfinance institutions according to a report by McKinsey.

The report adds that nearly 2.2 billion of these unserved adults live in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and though unserved, they are servable.

Pula Advisors, a fintech firm reimagining agricultural insurance to protect smallholders worldwide, with operations in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawi has partnered with the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) to deploy satellite-based agricultural insurance to smallholder farmers in Nigeria who are estimated to be around 18 million.

With the partnership, Pula will install satellite technology to track a wide range of catastrophes cost effectively, at speed and without missing out on any areas.

“We hope that the high-quality yield and satellite data available today will enable local insurers and Pula Advisors to create an innovative yield predictive model that decreases the cost of area yield index insurance. At the end of the day, we want to make this product more accessible to smallholder families, allowing them to invest with more confidence and increase their yields,” said Emilio Hernandez, who leads CGAP’s work with smallholders.

The satellite’s are expected to help Pula provide farmers with the confidence they need to invest in their farms by protecting them from many types of hazards using its Area yield index insurance which determines the average agricultural yield in a defined area. In below-average harvesting seasons, it reimburses farmers in that area for the value insured (for example, the value of the seeds and fertilizers they used that year).

For providers, the advantage of this type of insurance is that sampling yields for the area removes the need to visit each individual farm. Even so, determining average yields remains costly. Year after year, it requires providers to pay trained auditors to conduct detailed yield measurements in remote areas.

“We are thrilled to work with CGAP to solve this challenge and believe it can make this type of insurance scale across smallholder farmers in Nigeria and beyond,” said Rose Goslinga, co-founder Pula.

In Nigeria, CGAP and Pula will be working with a consortium of insurance and agribusiness companies to bring an area yield index insurance product to market that reimburses farmers in-kind for fertilizers they purchased ahead of below-average harvests. The partnership’s goal will be to lower the cost of offering this product by enabling providers to use satellite imagery instead of auditors to determine average yields.

In 2016 alone, Pula facilitated crop and livestock insurance cover to 400,000 farmers in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Malawi.

Student finance firm Prodigy Finance raises $240m to fund the growing number of international students

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Students continue to struggle to find the funds needed to finance their education as banks and traditional financiers are often unable to lend internationally; they cannot easily assess foreign risk nor enforce loan repayment across borders.

With operations in London, New York and Cape Town, Prodigy Finance has raised $240 million to assist new students with financing and provide refinancing for students that have student debt at higher interest rates, credit secured with collateral, or other unfavourable conditions on their existing loans.

The investment includes a $40 million Series C equity round led by international venture capital firm Index Ventures, with Balderton Capital and AlphaCode also participating, as well as a $200 million debt facility led by a global investment bank.

According to Cameron Stevens, Prodigy Finance’s CEO, “the investment will allow us to double the size of our student portfolio. We believe in financial inclusion and talent mobility and look forward to continuing to help international students break the funding barrier and further their education at top schools”.

This investment enables strategic growth plans that will increase the company’s footprint. In addition to assisting new students with financing, plans are underway to provide refinancing for students that have student debt at higher interest rates, credit secured with collateral, or other unfavourable conditions on their existing loans.

Prodigy Finance’s student loans are collectively funded by a community of alumni, institutional investors and qualified private investors who receive both a financial and social return. Students gain access to higher education that they might not otherwise be able to finance. This model enables alumni of top schools to help fund students from their alma mater or home country while earning a financial return.

Prodigy Finance’s unique global credit model, and variables such as assessing applications based on projected earning rather than historical credit, allows the company to provide funding to students without collateral, a cosigner or guarantor. More than 80 percent of Prodigy Finance borrowers have no alternative access to financing.

Launched in 2007 by three INSEAD MBA graduates who experienced the difficulties of financing an international degree first-hand, Prodigy Finance has provided more than $325 million in loans that have been disbursed to over 7,100 students – 78 percent of whom come from emerging markets.

University of Cape Town Becomes First in Africa to Offer Degree in Fintech

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The University of Cape Town (UCT) has become the first university in Africa to offer a degree in Fintech, allowing students to develop the requisite skills and knowledge needed to embrace technological advancements in the financial services sector.

According to Business Insider, the new degree is a Master of Data Science with a specialisation in Financial Technology, and will be offered for the first time in January 2018.

The degree will help students to acquire necessary skills in order to develop in the two most important areas of fintech which are: Machine learning and blockchain technologies.

The Course convener, Dr Co-Pierre Georg, a Senior Lecturer at the African Institute of Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) at UCT noted that the innovation was a result of consultations between the institution and the financial services industry experts on the growing shift in demand for skills.

Students in the new UCT degree will master machine learning which is the technology driving innovations such as self-driving cars and speech recognition and will be able to develop their own applications tailored for the financial sector.

The students are also expected to master the dynamism of blockchain technology that is behind new cryptocurrencies, automated supply-chain management over remittance and other payment services up to health and insurance.

“We are in constant and close contact with the financial services industry and know that it is facing a shifting demand for skills. In the past, companies were mainly looking for advanced mathematical- and modelling skills.

There still is demand for these skills, but by far the largest demand now is for students who have a thorough understanding of finance combined with a mastery of modern data analytics and software development skills,” says Georg.

The degree is an interdisciplinary and convened together with the Department of Statistical Science at UCT.

The Associate Professor and Head of the Department, Francesca Little revealed, “We started the MSc in Data Science to give students a thorough understanding of the latest methods in statistical learning. This includes the extremely exciting field of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The idea then was to bring together UCT’s ‘best and brightest’ from other departments to design a degree that is truly special. We are delighted to partner with AIFMRM so that we are able to offer a specialisation in the exciting new field of Financial Technology.”

Belfrics Global unveils its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for early cryptocurrency investors in Africa

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Barely a month after it launched its operations in Kenya, Belfrics Global is taking another bold step in the right direction. The company will be launching the Belrium ICO (Initial Coin Offering) which will allow anyone to become an early blockchain investor.

An Initial Coin Offering is similar to an IPO where a company moves to raise funds by selling a stake in the technology to early crypto-currency investors. The ICO will see investors get coins or tokens, as opposed to a stock for IPOs. With Bitcoin soaring to new heights in the last couple of months, it is just a matter of time before cryptocurrencies, and the technologies that enable these digital currencies to flourish, become the norm when it comes to money transactions online.

Belfrics launched its Bitcoin Exchange in Nairobi, Kenya, becoming one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the region. The launch signalled the rising adoption and confidence in cryptocurrencies in the region.

The Belrium ICO is set to kick off on 8th September 2017 and will be available till 8th October 2017. When you purchase the Belrium Token, you automatically get voting and access rights on the blockchain.

The first price of the token will be 0.0005 BTC. There is no minimum or maximum investment goals. Only Etherium and Bitcoin (BTC) are accepted as the purchase currencies.

Belrium is the first Know Your Customer (KYC)-compliant blockchain, developed by Belfrics, that seeks to provide transparency in the cyrptocurrency ecosystem. This provides relief from risk of theft and hacking while offering instant transaction processing. Belrium blockchain security features are also well documented.

As of May 2017, investments in ICOs is now above $380M. As a result, we have seen Bitcoin entire market capitalization in cryptocurrencies drop from 80 percent to less than 50 percent in one year. This is despite its steady and meteoric rise in price.

To get started or learn more about the Belrium ICO, click on the link: Belrium ICO

This Kenyan developer is mining Zcash from his living room & it’s fun

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“You can mine tonnes of other digital currencies,” he posted on his wall. “Which are actually much more profitable than Bitcoin. In my case I’ve been mining Ethereum & ZCash. I built this one mid July and it’s been running a little over 28 days now. It only requires an internet connection and power,”

The developer chose ZCash over bitcoin because bitcoin requries special miners called ASIC which are expensive and very rare. Though his mine has several months to go, he says cryptomining is profitable and anyone can make good money out of it. Though volatile, cryptocurrencies are mostly unaffected by fluctuations in the economy especially during an election, civil unrest or inflation as they are digital and decentralised.

Mutai, an Andela developer based in Kenya says he using a 3.2 Ghz Core i5 7500 PC with an 8 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD running Windows 10 and 8 Nvidia Asus 1080 Tis graphics cards with 11GB RAM consuming a total of 2300W.

With the 1080 Tis, Mutai says he’s currently doing 5600 Sols/s, one of the highest solutions mined per second. For those who want to try it at home, Mutai is mining on windows 10, using EBFW miner which is awesomely optimized for Zcash. Conceived as “Zerocash” in 2014 by researchers from MIT, Johns Hopkins University,  Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Tel Aviv University, the privacy-focused digital currency allows users to make anonymous transactions without trace.

There are new developments coming to Though Zcash such as the disclosure feature for parties involved in the transaction and a Cross-Chain Atomic Transactions (XCAT) to enable enable inter-Blockchain transactions involving leading digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Oxford University and Get Smarter Launch FinTech Programme

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Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and South African e-learning company GetSmarter have launched an online FinTech programme to help meet the challenges of a rapidly changing financial services industry.

The new digital open enrollment programme on financial technology and innovation was lanched with an aim to help executives launch new FinTech ventures and harness new technology to build better financial services firms.

The programme examines current and emerging technologies around money and payments, markets and consumer experience, and explores key ideas, principles, and frameworks around RegTech, PropTech and social inclusion. It covers topics ranging from blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to crowdfunding and quantum computing.

According to Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean and Professor of Finance at Saïd Business School, “Technology and the mobile revolution are rapidly transforming financial markets, institutions, and business models. Drawing upon the expertise of leading academics and practitioners from Saïd Business School, our new digital FinTech programme, supported by GetSmarter, will provide entrepreneurs and executives with the insights and knowledge necessary to navigate this changing landscape, and adapt and progress in their careers.”

Speaking on the partnership, Rob Paddock, Chief Academic Officer and Co-Founder of GetSmarter said, “We are honoured and proud to be working with Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, one of the world’s oldest and most respected institutions, on this dynamic, new online FinTech open programme. Students will  learn from internationally-recognised Saïd faculty, who bring hands-on industry experience and expertise to the curriculum and programme development, while utilising our Online Campus – a user-friendly, collaborative, people-mediated approach to online learning design.”

Designed as a hands-on, experiential programme, it is being run by Nir Vulkan, Associate Professor of Business Economics at Oxford Saïd and David Shrier, business author and CEO of Distilled Analytics – both leading authorities on fintech. The programme also features academics from the UK and the US, and over 60 curated expert perspectives from banking and technology guest speakers such as Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and Anne Boden, CEO at Starling Bank.

The programme will begin on 9th October, 2017, and run for 10 weeks.

PayU Nigeria Introduces PayU Subscription, a convenient payment solution for recurring bills

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PayU Nigeria introduces PayU Subscription, a convenient payment method which allows merchants to safely and securely collect payments from consumers who have recurring bills or subscription payments in a seamless way.

According to Country Manager of PayU Nigeria, Ms Juliet Nwanguma said: “PayU Subscription is an innovative product for businesses who are looking to offer subscription and recurring bill payments to their customers.”

It provides customers with a simple, safe and secure alternative to regular direct debit payments. Using tokenisation as the underlying technology, PayU offers a card based recurring payment method for the payment of any recurring bills or subscriptions. Customers who want to setup recurring or subscription payment is inconvenienced as they are required to physically go to their bank and complete a direct debit order form. With PayU Subscription, all of this is avoided.  Merchants only need their customers to choose the recurring payment option as well as the period i.e. weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.

Nwanguma said: “PayU Subscription allows merchants to improve customer satisfaction by offering a more convenient way for their customers to pay for their subscriptions and other recurring bills.

Ultimately, PayU Subscription helps merchants boost collections and revenue in a quick, convenient and simple way.”

Explaining further, she said: “PayU Subscription is highly beneficial to merchants and businesses in all sectors who want to boost and simplify their payment collections for subscription-related payments such as utility bills, monthly residential bills and various subscription services such as magazine subscriptions, insurance policies, membership dues, music distribution and digital downloads and more.”

Through the introduction of innovative products like PayU Subscription, PayU continues to be an innovative leader in the payments industry and helping to define the future of Fintech and digital payments in the Nigerian market.

With a presence in 16 markets globally and over 250 payment options, PayU is dedicated to providing safe, secure, online payments for your business.

SystemSpecs Takes On Nigerian Banks With App That Allows Users to View Their Account Balances

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Nigeria’s SystemSpecs has launched the full version of its Remita Mobile Application, for both Android and Apple phone users.

The innovative payment solution according to the firm is aimed at “helping individuals to access all their bank balances on one screen, conveniently make and receive payments across various bank accounts, settle various bills, request payment in style, easily manage their expenses, view their payslip, and generally stay in control of their finances.”

Mr John Obaro, the Managing Director of SystemSpecs said with the full release of Remita Mobile App on Google Play Store and Apple app store, more individuals can now take charge of their finances.

He stated that whether for a business or personal need, payments can be requested in the most convenient manner and shared by email or any social media channel, adding that all a payer has to do is to snap a QR code from their smartphone or tap their device against the biller’s to complete transactions.

“In addition to the features available on the app as at March of this year when it was released in beta version, users of Remita Mobile App will now enjoy a number of new features which would enable them to seamlessly make payments for others, view their payslip and manage their business and personal accounts with ease,” Obaro said.

He explained that rather than trying to compete with banks that have related applications for their customers, the company seeks to work together with the financial institutions to deliver the solution to their customers.

“You see on your mobile phone today you have Gmail, Office email, Yahoo mail; all of them merged together are not necessarily competing. They’re not competing with your device.

“It’s to be able to work together. Working together, we mean that, as the banks want to satisfy their customers, every customer will love to have a kind of features which we have described together. So we will work with the banks to deliver this solution to their customers. All these things we have mentioned are not new,” he noted.

Obaro pointed out that using the app would attract a processing fee which would be shared with all the people in the entire value chain, adding that, they have agreed with the banks in that regard. He also noted that one of the objectives of the app is to reach more people including the informal sector.

The application has inbuilt standard industry security measures as well as specific security layers that guarantee the integrity of all access and transactions, including Personal Security Number, fingerprint authentication, One-Time Password Verification, among, others.

Fenix raises over $4m from MTN, Swedish Embassy & USAID to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia

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Fenix International, a venture-backed pay-to-own home solar system technology and and financial services firm has raised funds from MTN, the Swedish Embassy in Zambia and USAID to launch pay-to-own solar home systems in Zambia.

The funding together with MTN’s distribution networks will help the firm reach unbanked and off-grid customers then later connect them to smart phones, financial services among others.

According to Lyndsay Handler, CEO of Fenix International, “Over 90 per cent of rural Zambians lack access to electricity and have no options other than dangerous candles and kerosene lanterns to light their homes. This is the harsh reality of the situation which we are working to change. Our solar home systems not only provide light and energy, but our unique Fenix credit score makes upgrades and additional life-changing products accessible to committed customers as their needs and incomes grow. Ten years from now, we hope to eliminate the use of candles and be an important part of our customers’ lives across Zambia.”

Though the amount MTN is committing has not been made public but might be in millions of dollars if its distribution network is valued. The Swedish Embassy is committing nearly $3m (SEK 24,750,000) to Fenix in Zambia between now and 2020 while USAID will contribute an additional $750,000 Fenix.

The launch in Zambia represents the first step in Fenix’s expansion across Africa with their flagship product, ReadyPay Power, which provides off-grid customers access to ultra-affordable solar power and already popular in Uganda. Approximately 15 million Zambians live without access to the electrical grid, representing 80 per cent of the total population and 95 percent of rural residents. Fenix will extend its own proven model for making solar power accessible and affordable, which has doubled the company’s Ugandan customer base in just 12 months. With backing from the Swedish Embassy and USAID, Fenix expects to reach 850,000 rural Zambians by 2020.

ReadyPay Power is an expandable solar home system designed to provide power to households and small businesses that the grid has failed to reach. Customers make instalments of as little as $0.20 per day via MTN Mobile Money until they have paid in full. Fenix uses these continuous micro-payments to generate a credit score, enabling customers to access additional system upgrades or financial services.

“The transformative relationship between MTN Mobile Money and off-grid energy has been an exceptional revelation. MTN Mobile Money now sits at the heart of many households, who use these simple and secure services daily to light up their lives. For us, this is all part of the mission to create mobile solutions which make a difference,” said Wane Ngambi, Head of Mobile Financial Services, MTN Zambia.

Funding from the Embassy of Sweden in Lusaka is provided as part of the Power Africa: Beyond the Grid Fund Zambia (BGFZ) initiative. This is managed by REEEP (the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership). BGFZ aims to bring basic clean energy access to 1 million Zambians and accelerate private sector growth in clean energy generation and distribution in the country. USAID’s additional $750,000 support is provided as part of its Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development, which aims to create up to 20 million new connections in off-grid communities across Africa.

 

 

Belfrics Global Launches a Bitcoin Exchange in Kenya, set to expand to Nigeria and Ghana

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Headquartered in Singapore, Malaysia, with operational offices in India, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Dubai, Belfrics Global has launched its Bitcoin Exchange in Kenya to allow traders and Bitcoin users to trade more efficiently and at a much lower cost. The cost of transactions while using Belfrics will be only 5 percent.

Belfrics will join BitPesa and BitSoko, the two Nairobi-based bitcoin exchanges.

According to the company CEO and Chairman, Praveenkumar Vijayakumar, the company has received very positive support in the last couple months it has been testing its services in Kenya. This has necessitated its official launch to further expand its growth in the country and the region.

Praveenkumar, Belfrics intends to reach and offer its services to between 100, 000 to 1, 000, 000 people in the next one to one and half years.

Belfrics Global is also offering its initial coin offering (ICO) as an investment vehicle.  The launch will be on September 8th, 2017 when it launches the Belfrics Blockchain.  Unlike other cryptocurrency coins, which are difficult to identify users, Belfrics Blockchain will allow users to be identified, thereby enabling the tracking of transactions on the platform.

Blockchain offers a big opportunity for money transfer services by bringing the costs down to only a fraction of the current costs. Belfrics Global intends to leverage this huge gap in the coming months. The company also intends to expand its operations to Nigeria and Ghana.

With a GDP of $69.97 billion, Kenya is the 72nd largest economy in the world and Eastern and Central Africa’s hub for financial services with an increased interest in the cryptocurrency. This is seen from the volume of trading which has seen a substantial increase in 2016, compared to the slow growth in trading volumes seen from 2013 to 2015.

There are currently only three bitcoin exchanges in Kenya. To cater to the growing demand for bitcoin trading, Belfrics has launched its services in Kenya.

With the increasing awareness and acceptance of bitcoins, its value has been reaching new heights. Belfrics aims to be at the forefront of this growing industry. A unified currency for the world that brings transparency and efficiency to the financial system is what Belfrics is working towards.

Belfrics provides a bitcoin wallet that meets the highest standards of security. Equipped with automatic deep freeze technology and two factor authentication process, you can be assured that your funds are safe at all times. Apart from a secure wallet, Befrics also provides a POS system and payment gateway for merchants to accept bitcoins as payment, enhancing their scope of business.

As a part of the inaugural offer, Belfrics is giving free bitcoins (10,000 Satoshis) for signing up. Make a profitable choice and trade with Belfrics.

 

Flutterwave Secures $10 Million In Series A Funding 

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Nigeria’s Flutterwave, which provides modern payments infrastructure for banks and businesses to make and accept payments across Africa, announced that it has raised over $10 million in a Series A round of funding.

The round was led by Greycroft Partners and Green Visor Capital with participation from Y Combinator and Glynn Capital. This new funding is in addition to previous investments by the company’s current investors which include, Omidyar Network, Social Capital, CRE Venture Capital and HOF Capital amongst others.

Flutterwave will use the capital to hire more talent, build out its global operations and fuel its expansion across Africa.

Although spending by Africa’s consumers and businesses totals over $4 trillion annually and African businesses are expected to spend around $3.5 trillion by 2025, African consumers are severely limited in how they can participate in the digital economy. Credit Card penetration by global card brands like Mastercard and Visa in Africa is less than 3% and accepting local payment methods can be complex for large companies like Facebook, Uber, Google, Netflix and Amazon. Flutterwave works with Pan-African Banks to provide these companies with the underlying technology and integrations to payments in local currency with local debit cards, bank accounts or mobile wallets across 30 African countries.

“The digital economy is the new global economy. Yet despite its incredible promise, Africa is excluded from it because of several challenges with its outdated and fragmented payment systems. Flutterwave is building modern payments infrastructure to power growth for the digital economy of one of the fastest-growing regions in the world,” says Iyin Aboyeji, CEO and Co-founder of Flutterwave.

Founded by a team of African ex-bankers, engineers and entrepreneurs, Flutterwave has already processed over $1.2 billion in payments across over 10 million transactions. While it is headquartered in San Francisco, Flutterwave has offices in Lagos, Nairobi, Accra, Johannesburg and plans to expand further across the African continent in 2017.

“Greycroft is scouring the world for exciting SAAS companies, and FlutterWave is one of the fastest growing software companies we have seen,” says Ian Sigalow at Greycroft Partners. “Flutterwave built a lightweight, developer-friendly tool that provides key elements of a modern banking core, and they have quickly displaced legacy solutions across Africa. In Nigeria alone, they are already processing a few percent of GDP from a cold start at the beginning of last year.”

“Flutterwave is building infrastructure and technology solutions that will help modernize African payments. We are excited to be working with this extraordinary team,” says Joe Saunders, Chairman and General Partner at Green Visor Capital, who also joins Flutterwave’s board of directors.”

“We are excited to work with world-class investors who have helped build global payments giants like Visa and Braintree to achieve our mission of building modern payments infrastructure to connect Africa to the global economy.” adds Aboyeji.